I’m writing this in one tab as a tractor is idling away in another, and it’s not even a webgame: right now I have Farming Simulator 2011 running on Facebook, via Gaikai. That’s kind of neat. The cloud-streaming service is hosting seven demos of PC games, with five available in Europe and (Magicka, Sniper – Ghost Warrior, The Witcher 2 – Assassins of Kings, Orcs Must Die!, Farming Simulator 2011) the US, and two (Saints Row – The Third, Dead Rising 2 – Off the Record) only playable to US Facebookers. You get 30 minutes of gametime to test out potential buys, before you need to return to update your status as “Farmboy”.
I’ve already tried out Sniper – Ghost Warrior, which ran perfectly smoothly and playable, if a bit grainy. It felt like a 720p upscaled to fit my monitor, which I actually think is what it does. But there was no lag at all: I kept check of the bandwidth and it was sucking down 1mb per second, so there’s a hefty bandwidth cost accrued. I’d love it if the game updated your status, especially if they were without context.
Is this the future? It’s an impressive tech, but for now Gaikai seem more comfortable delivering content as demonstrations rather than full-games: even placing it on a platform as large as Facebook, if they continue to be merely a provider of small chunks of games, I can’t see how they’ll grow the idea that this sort of service is viable. OnLive is rather impressive as well, but I think it needs a big company and platform to move it away from the ‘that’s neat’ reaction I’m having. Still, I’d rather see this become something the industry gets behind over 3D.
Go on: be brave.